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Evidence doesn't support enhanced possession charges

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Because the state failed to prove that an early training center located near the defendant’s home constituted school property for purposes of enhancing drug charges, the Indiana Court of Appeals ordered the man’s convictions be reduced.

In Robert A. Baker v. State of Indiana, No. 40A05-1109-CR-503, Robert Baker challenged his convictions of Class B felony possession of methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a school and Class C felony possession of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school.

At Baker’s trial, North Vernon police officer Craig Kipper, who responded to the report of a chemical odor coming from Baker’s apartment, testified that the apartment was approximately 600 feet from the Early Training Center. He said the ETC offered continuing education classes for students who wanted to get their high school diplomas.

Baker argued on appeal that the evidence doesn’t support enhancing his convictions based on the location of the ETC. The judges agreed. The state didn’t point to any evidence presented at trial that showed the ETC was a building or other structure owned or rented by a school corporation or other entity described under Indiana Code 35-41-1-24.7, nor was there evidence that any of the students enrolled in the program were school-age children and not adults or college-age individuals.

Judge Elaine Brown pointed out that previous caselaw has dictated that college and university property does not fall under the term “school property” as used under I.C. 35-41-1-24.7 to support a charge enhancement.

The appellate court ordered that Baker’s convictions be entered as Class D felonies and he be resentenced accordingly.

 

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  1. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  2. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  3. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  4. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  5. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

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